2016 Desire Lines Wine Co. Syrah, Shake Ridge Ranch, Amador County.
The most powerful and exotic wine in the exceptional lineup of Desire Lines Wine Co. is Cody Rasmussen’s exotic and dense Shake Ridge Ranch Syrah with its gloriously full bodied palate and incredible length on the finish, this is outstanding stuff, maybe the best Amador wine I’ve ever had! This big and serious Syrah took a while to grow on me and for me to fully understand and appreciate as it comes at you with a riot of deep fruit and an array of sweet and tangy spices. I’ll be honest, I loved Rasmussen’s Griffin’s Lair much better at first, and still absolutely adore it, but after reflection this wine maybe left a bigger impression on me, while Griffin’s Lair had the comforting and compelling Northern Rhone character, this Shake Ridge Ranch was more like Penfolds Grange or Chapoutier’s Cote-Rotie, with the flamboyant richness and staggering, but velvety grip, not far off the hedonistic style of Andy Erickson’s Favia “Quarzo” (also from this region) or a Guigal La La! This inky dark Syrah is a big mouth full of wine with packed layers of thick fruit that somehow retains a tight focus and thrills completely with boysenberry, black plum, blueberry coulis and creme de cassis leading the way with hints of smoke, flinty graphite, sweet flowers, roast herbs de provence, mineral and vanilla laced wood notes. This 2016 Shake Ridge Syrah is opulent though has mouth coating tannins that leads me to believe it will be age worthy wine that should take on some even more interesting characteristics, even though I doubt many will be that patient. Desire Lines is one of the best new labels out there this year and as mentioned in prior reviews, this is a another must join list, especially for this and their Griffin’s Lair Syrah(s), but also the Carignan based red and the Cole Ranch Dry Riesling are super tasty wines as well.
Rasmussen, who is the assistant winemaker at Bedrock Wine Company under Morgan Twain-Peterson, started the Desire Line Wine Co. label with his wife Emily with the 2015 vintage, which was made with grapes coming from the mentioned Griffin’s Lair Vineyard in the Petaluma Gap and from a one row block that magically came available. Originally the couple, who were childhood sweethearts, came west to pursue wine from the midwest with Cody doing harvests at Balletto and Patz and Hall before getting his dream job at Twain-Peterson’s Bedrock Wine Co., and its access to some of the most historic fruit in the state. Cody notes that his 2016 Shake Ridge Syrah was fermented with 50% whole cluster and aged for 14 months in neutral French 500L cask, and he adds that he gets the fruit for this wine from two different blocks on the the ranch, which were the first vines planted at Shake Ridge back in 2003, with both blocks running from the crown of a ridge down into a much cooler swale, giving him a range of flavors and providing a natural balance in the wine. The Shake Ridge Ranch, as the winery notes, lies just uphill of the Melones Fault, almost directly in the center of the richest portion of the California Mother Lode, known as Gold Country in the Sierra Foothills with a vast array of rich intense soils. With mostly granite and schist along with Mariposa slate, greenstone, and marble, plus Rasmussen notes that there is also, in the vineyard rows at Shake Ridge, chunks of quartz. This geology makes for a special sauce that along with the warm days and cool nights delivers a unique terroir expression in the regions wines, which is absolutely present in this outstanding Syrah, think Saint-Joseph meets Barossa! Look for Desire Lines Wine Co., and these amazing wines, drink this one over the next 5 to 10 years.
($40 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive